Room to create

Wickersham Brothers keep wheels

The Wickersham Brothers, photography by Ellie Bogue

The Wickersham Brothers, photography by Ellie Bogue

From the time he was a small boy growing up in El Paso, Fernando Tarango was surrounded by music. His mother was a music teacher, and he remembers his sisters recording songs on the radio to listen to repeatedly while writing out the lyrics. Tarango himself remembers singing from his earliest days, and a combination of talent and bravery led to him accepting an opportunity to join the American Boys Choir School in Princeton, N.J., far from his Texas home and his family.

That spirit of adventure came from his family as surely as his musical talents did. His father, a driver for General Electric, was in and out of Fort Wayne often and the Tarango family decided to move to the area for greater opportunities and to be closer to their young music student in New Jersey. Fort Wayne has been a home base for Tarango ever since though his travels have taken him far and wide, including Ann Arbor, where he studied music at the University of Michigan. But his early course was set by a job that got away.

“I was part of a professional quartet that was offered a job on a cruise ship, but that fell through just before the sail date. I had a friend with a big choir in California who offered me a job there. He said ‘We can’t pay you, but we can house you.’ So I started singing and teaching out of necessity to make some money while I was out there.”

After a few years in Oakland, Tarango returned for a time to Michigan and eventually did land a cruise gig, this time as a solo artist. Throughout his travels, Fort Wayne continued to be home, something he ultimately decided to make permanent.

“I was looking at Fort Wayne and thinking that a lot can happen here. There’s room for innovation, there’s room to create things. It has a good music scene, and with the downtown developing and the focus being put on music and arts, I thought it would be a good time to be part of that.”

He soon began to look for others who shared his vision so he could assemble a group of like-minded musicians with whom to play. Enter Cale Reese, Brad Crossland, Logan Weber and Jason Markzon, now better known as the Wickersham Brothers. Having found a steady home at both Club Soda and Deer Park, not to mention high-profile gigs like Taste of the Arts and the upcoming Buskerfest, the Wickersham Brothers have recorded an EP and have contributed the theme to Julia Meek’s “Meet the Music” program as well as an Old Spice commercial. Their infectious blend of jazz and rock, highlighted by Tarango’s vocals, can also be found on YouTube and Tarango’s website. With any luck, it will soon be heard well beyond Fort Wayne in the months and years ahead.

First appeared in the JuneĀ 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.

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